News / USA

Midterm Elections Post High Stakes for Obama

Multimedia

Audio

President Barack Obama is spending an increasing amount of time campaigning and raising money for Democratic congressional candidates in the run-up to the November midterm elections.  The president wants to do all he can to limit Democratic losses this year, well aware that an erosion of the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate will have enormous political implications for his ability to govern over the next two years.

History says that the party that controls the White House usually loses congressional seats in a new president's first midterm election.  Combine that with a struggling national economy and you have the recipe for electoral trouble this November for Democrats.

With that in mind, President Obama has embarked on campaign swings aimed at helping out Democratic congressional candidates around the country.  But everywhere Mr. Obama goes he has to confront the public's fears about a national economy that seems to be recovering - if at all - in fits and starts.

"Slowly but surely we are moving in the right direction," said Obama.  "We are on the right track.  The economy is getting stronger, but it really suffered a big trauma and we are not going to get all eight million jobs that were lost back overnight."

The public's frustration with the pace of economic recovery is told almost daily in opinion polls.  A recent Associated Press poll found that only 41 percent of those surveyed approve of the president's handling of the economy, and 61 percent said they thought the economy had either gotten worse or stayed the same during Mr. Obama's time in office.

The main problem is the high unemployment rate, now at 9.5 percent nationally, says Quinnipiac University pollster Peter Brown.  "Voters are very unhappy about the economy.  When you say the economy, what they are really talking about is unemployment because unemployment is what matters to voters."

Unhappiness over jobs and the economy is fueling a Republican comeback in the polls this year, with the opposition hoping to reclaim control of one or both houses of Congress that they lost in 2006.

House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio would likely become Speaker of the House if Republicans can gain at least 39 congressional seats in November.

"After promising so much and delivering so little, the Democrats have lost the support of the American people and the credibility to govern," said Boehner.

Mr. Obama came into office in 2008 in large part because of discontent over the economy and a desire for change after eight years of Republican President George W. Bush.  Political experts say this year's congressional elections will be in part a referendum on President Obama's handling of the economy.

University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato said, "The election is about the economy.  We have seen a parade of other issues that are really not going to matter as much as people think they are going to matter.  The BP oil spill, immigration, gay marriage, all of these things are interesting and they are controversial, but the black hole of this election year is the economy, the rotten economy, the high unemployment rate.  That is what is hurting Democrats."

In recent days, the president has been warning voters that Republicans have no plan to deal with the country's economic challenges and that they would return to the economic approach of the Bush administration.

Larry Sabato says he expects many Democratic candidates to continue to blame Republicans for the current economic woes, but he says many voters will be skeptical.

"It is a good tactic, but the problem is that by two years into the (presidential) term, voters naturally hold the incumbent president and his party accountable for what has happened.  You run out of options in the blame game," said Sabato.

There are other political factors that seem to be working against the Democrats and the president this year.  Conservatives are energized, Democrats appear lethargic and independent voters, who were an important part of Mr. Obama's election coalition in 2008, seem to be deserting the president in droves, said analyst Charlie Cook.

"And so it is a matter of swing (independent) voters that had swung for Democrats in the two previous elections now swinging over to Republicans, and then the Democratic base being demoralized or unenthusiastic, and conservatives and Republicans very energized and likely to turn out in bigger numbers," said Cook.

Not all Democrats will want the president to campaign for them this year, especially in states and congressional districts where Mr. Obama is unpopular.  Most Democrats, though, will welcome any financial help they can get from the president in the form of campaign fundraising, says Georgetown University expert Stephen Wayne.

"Number one, raise money for Democrats who may be challenged or targeted by Republicans, and President Obama still has great appeal among Democrats and is a great money raiser," said Wayne.

Analysts say a Republican takeover of one or both houses of Congress would severely curtail the president's ability to get his domestic agenda passed by lawmakers over the next two years, and could put him at a political disadvantage as he looks ahead to his own re-election challenge in 2012.


You May Like

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by a joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop billions of dollars from illegally being moved out of continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid